A new patient scanner has been unveiled in the region to help diagnose a range of conditions quickly.
More than £500,000 has been spent on the advanced diagnostic equipment at Hexham General Hospital in Northumberland.
The scanner, which can be used for any part of the body, provides high quality images to enable clinicians at the hospital to quickly assess patients.
Guy Opperman, MP for Hexham, was pleased to officially unveil the state-of-the-art machine.
He said: “To have such an advanced piece of equipment in Hexham General Hospital is fantastic news for people living in this part of Northumberland and I am delighted to see such investment in local health services by Northumbria Healthcare. It is excellent that local people are able to have their scans here in Hexham, without having to travel out of the area, and be able to have their appointments sooner.”
It is the first scanner of its kind to be installed by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which also runs North Tyneside and Wansbeck general hospitals.
Due to its fast resolution imaging, the equipment can scan twice as many patients in a given timeframe.
Dr Rahul Dharmadhikari, consultant radiologist and trust-wide clinical lead, said: “It’s great that Hexham General Hospital is the first hospital in Northumbria Healthcare to have this type of CT scanner which uses the latest diagnostic technology available.
“Its increased speed means that we’re able to scan so many more patients – twice as many outpatients in a day than we did previously – ensuring people have their appointments sooner.
“The high quality images the scanner produces gives us a much more accurate picture of a part of the body and ultimately means that we can diagnose our patients quicker and start any treatment they may need sooner.”
At the hospital, the equipment will be used to scan emergency patients and those who are staying on a ward, as well as people referred by their GP.
Pauline Gilroy from St John Lee, near Hexham, Northumberland, has already benefited from the new machine.
The grandmother-of-eight had a head scan less than a week after being referred by her GP after suffering dizziness.
She said: “I’d never had a CT scan before, however it was so quick and easy – it was over before I’d even realised it had started.
“I was really impressed that I had my appointment so quickly and the staff couldn’t have been more helpful and friendly.”
The investment is part of the trust’s development of services at its general hospital sites which will become centres of excellence for diagnostics, outpatients and planned procedures when the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital opens in 2015.